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The Blue Pearmain Apple

If you’re on the hunt for a sweet-and-tart apple that’s perfect for everyday recipes and meals, and easily grown in your own backyard, then you’ve searched for the right one! The beloved Blue Pearmain Apple is here to meet your baking, snacking, and other cuisine needs, without leaving you frazzled if you’re learning to grow a bumper crop yourself.

Read on to learn more about this apple that’s renowned for its culinary versatility…one so tasty, even famous writers have gushed about it!

Closeup of apple tree branch with a single apple with waxy bloom on it.

History of the Blue Pearmain Apple

With its origins dating back to somewhere between the 1700 and 1800s, the Blue Pearmain Apple is a favorite of the New England region, and was even written of with extensive praise by Henry David Thoreau in his essay on Wild Apples, with great enthusiasm about the Blue Pearmain’s delightful appeal even when found untended in the wild.

The Blue Pearmain Apple’s exact origins to this day are unknown, but wild, ancient Blue Pearmain apple trees can still be found in rural portions of New England, even as far north as southern and central Maine.

A vintage black ink sketch of a Blue Pearmain apple.
A vintage sketch of a Blue Pearmain apple.

Characteristics of the Blue Pearmain Apple

The Blue Pearmain Apple is a winter apple notable for its medium to very large fruits, with tough, remarkably-colored skin akin to a plum at times, a dense hand-feel, creamy inner color, and a sweet, slightly tart taste. Its outer shade is particularly of note, with that blue-purple tone and a burst of russet coloring typically right around the stem.

Some fruits may have a bit of cloudiness over their surface, but this is nothing to be concerned about; this waxy bloom is common in all apples and is simply more visible on the Blue Pairmain due to its luscious bruisy hue. This is the same effect you’ll typically see on plums, grapes, or blueberries.

Red apples on tree.

Blue Pearmain Specific

Eating Them

Perhaps the most famous application for the Blue Pearmain Apple is in its variety of baking uses! Its trademarked tough skin makes the Blue Pearmain a fantastic contender for any kind of apple baking dish, as it holds up perfectly under high heat. Stuffed, glazed, or simply cut up and baked as-is, you can’t get much better for a baking apple in terms of texture and taste!

Cooking and Baking

You’ll also find the Blue Pearmain to be a great component for pies and tarts thanks to that sweet, tangy crispness and the texture of the apple’s flesh. It also makes for a great saucing apple, cooking down into a tart, sweet yellow sauce in minutes—although again, the skins of this variety will not break down, so they will need to be removed before saucing or pureeing, and may be better off peeled before adding to pies and tarts as well.

Many have also noted the Blue Pearmain as a favorite for making apple cider, with that sweet tartness providing the perfect crisp, refreshing fall drink!

Bakes apples with raisins and spices.

Snacking

While the Blue Pearmain does make a great snacking apple out of hand due to its taste profile and fleshiness, you will likely find the aforementioned firm skin is difficult to bite through; especially for younger children, it is recommended to peel the apple before serving up for snacking. Otherwise, it can be enjoyed by any and every snacker, and may be enjoyed paired with peanut butter, crackers, brie or other soft, mellow cheeses, meats like chicken or summer sausage, and even ice cream!

Health Benefits

Like most apples, the Blue Pearmain is rife with an abundance of vitamins and minerals that bolster up your body’s natural defenses and offer a variety of health benefits! In addition to being a great source of Vitamin B, calcium, and iron, apples like the Blue Pearmain also offer blood-sugar friendly carbs, gut-friendly fiber, and may help with lung health, heart health, immunity, and even bone and brain health (some research has shown that apples may help ease symptoms of Alzheimer’s and age-related memory loss!).

Picking up a Blue Pearmain apple for a snack is a fantastic choice your whole body will thank you for. You have everything to gain and little to lose when enjoying this tasty fruit treat!

A spinach salad with apples, pomegranate arils, feta cheese, and nuts.
Apples added to salads are great ways to enjoy them year-round.

Growing At Home

The Blue Pearmain is a great apple for home-growing, yielding a crop within about 2-4 years that will satisfy for many more seasons to come! Blue Pearmain apple trees are a semi-dwarf variety that tend to do best in growing Zones 5 through 9, with a mid-to-late bloom and a late-period harvest.

With a mature size of 12-16 feet, this variety will thrive best when spaced a little more than 16 feet apart from their nearest growing neighbors, and should be planted with different varieties in the same bloom period to maximize pollination. Water requirements average about 12-15 gallons per week from May through September, on soil that is well-drained and loamy.

Blue Pearmain apple trees have good disease resistance, but one should always be sure to care properly for their trees to reduce the risk of disease or pest infestation. For more information on how to take the best possible care of your Blue Pearmain and other apple trees, please see our article on Apple Tree Care.

Blue-red apples on tree.

Where To Buy The Blue Pearmain Apple

It’s always best to begin your search for Blue Pearmain apple trees or seedlings at your local nurseries or garden centers. Online, you’ll find there are many vendors selling Blue Pearmain apple trees, scionwood, rootstock, seeds, and more! One such notable resource is Trees of Antiquity’s website – however, you may have some difficulty finding seedlings and rootstock of the Blue Pearmain still in stock in the late winter and early spring, as many places have sold out their limited quantities for the planting season; it’s best to begin your search for an apple tree of your own in the mid-to-late fall or early winter.

Where To Buy the Apples

In terms of buying the apples themselves, Blue Pearmain Apples can often be found at grocery stores, local markets, and farmer’s markets, particularly toward the end of the season, around October and later.

Blue Pearmain Apples can store for between 1-3 months, so you will want to have a plan in mind for how to use them after buying or harvesting to ensure you get the most out of your apples! Note that while Blue Pearmains may shrivel easily while in storage, they can still be used and kept for a bit beyond this point.

Closing Words On the Blue Pearmain Apple

Purple-red apples growing on a tree.

I know a Blue-Pearmain tree, growing on the edge of a swamp, almost as good as wild.” This is how Thoreau begins his narrative about the Blue Pearmain in his essay, “Wild Apples.” He wasn’t a fan of other modern grafted varieties, yet he was so taken with the taste of this apple that he wrote how he hunted for fallen fruit beneath the leaves of the tree. That’s quite an endorsement!

Ready to get baking, cooking, and growing with the Blue Pearmain Apple? We don’t blame you! Let us know in the comments section below what dish you’re most excited to make with your Blue Pearmains!

Excited for more apple content? Visit our apple trees page to learn more about apple planting, growing, picking, cooking, and more!